Sunday, June 22, 2008

An Ode to the White Knight

I made it to Port Angeles yesterday, and here I am again... The Tall Ship Lynx is also here, I've been visiting with the crew and the captain a little bit yesterday (when there was no wind) and then I was waiting for the wind to start to blow. Once I felt it was going to get going, I headed out, knowing that it was supposed to get to "small craft advisory" winds, and thus being advised, I made my way out on to the wide straits. For a good hour, I sat with no wind, drifting eastward (I wanted to go west, but the current is against me) and sanding some woodwork and oiling it. I think it looks great now, but trouble awaited...
I could see the water ahead of me getting carpet-like, so I hastily put on more clothes to get ready for it. It began to build, but then died away, and I found myself with too many clothes on, so I tookk some of them off. Oh deception.
So when it began building again, I didn't have enough time to put more clothes on, I was too busy trying to drop sail and get things ready for a blow. I finally got the genoa (large jib) down and put up the 75% lapper (which is about half the size of the genoa), and then put a reef in the main (which makes it smaller). I was feeling good, but the wind kept on picking up. Soon the waves I was pounding into were getting larger and larger, until they began to get ENORMOUS. These where the biggest waves I'd seen in 500 ft deep water. I'd be screaming along heeled over at around 45 degrees, and the monsters would move in. They come in sets, like in surfing... The first one is big, then the second one is bigger, and they suck out in between, so you can't see anything except this green (the sun was setting behind them, glowing nicely through the waves) wall of power and death. Nature lays the smack down hard core, I'm telling you. The cool thing was that the boat would almost completely jump from the water as they pass, this crazy drop down into the chasm between the surf. They would peak, and then break, just like surfing waves, and they must have been six feet high. I made it out to about the middle of the strait, and then as I was heading back towards Washington, I decided that I should get the hell off this water, and the best place to stay the night would be to go back to Port Angeles, rather than go to "Freshwater Bay" which is where I was planning on going. So I turn the boat around, and start heading down wind. Bad choice. Pounding into the waves is all right, and the canoe was filling up, but going down wind, I start surfing, and the canoe hates me. Its full of water, then empty, then full again, and suddenly its ahead of me, then its six feet under water, then with a large snap, its not attached anymore.
But I paid for that canoe, I've lost a different canoe, and I'm going to fight for this one, damn it. So I kick on the motor, drop sail, (which nearly gets me thrown overboard a few times, and is a crazy ride in itself, because the sail doesn't want to drop) and then turn the ship around. Now, where was that canoe? It has a black floaty fender attached to it, and after a few passes, I grab the fender with a boat hook, and attach the rear-drag line to the boat, ready for action... I motor for a while, but then the waves calm down a bit and I am going kind of slow, I'm worried about not making it back by dark, so I put up the jib and sail under that. Not enough power, I'm afraid. I guess the wind blows big and then stops. Must be some sort of funny weather around here...
Put up the main, still with the reef in it, and I'm doing all right, but then after a few minutes, the wind picks up again and its shoving up great big waves again. I'm just in front of the coast guard station off the end of the spit around port angeles, and the waves are getting big again. Suddenly a big green wall picks up behind me, and I think I should probably do something, but its too late. I surf ahead as I hear a crunching sound, suddenly going faster than before...
When I look back I can see some broken remains attached to the rope, and I see a little white end of the White Knight bobbing, but after the next wave its gone. I fly the final few miles to the corner and then back to the dock, where I spent the night, getting in just after the sun sets. It takes until today to realize the sorrows of losing that canoe. No more paddling ashore to visit, unless i get something new.
Maybe an inflatable...
Here is a picture of the remains of my beloved canoe...
RIP White Knight.

4 comments:

Nathan said...

That was a thrilling entry! Sorry to hear you lost White Knight. Maybe it's time for a Black Night; one that won't fall to mere wave-induced flesh wounds.

Rachel said...

Wow Chris,

the written version is even better than the phone rendition! Maybe you should just have a inflatable raft... then you don't have to drag your dinghy behind...

-Rachel

Nick Cann said...

great blog! I also own a 1971 Ericson 27 and like you share the belief go small and go now. this was a particularly great story and I can't wait to read on.

Andrew Osborne said...

RIP White Knight! At least you have a great story for it versus it just getting stolen.